I have an exercise that I hope that every person in Windham will go through. Please humor me as I lay out what I am asking all of you to do.
We’d like to thank Ellen Thibodeau for this Op-Ed. If you have an Op-Ed or LTE
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At 7:52 am, sit down at your desk and turn on your computer. Sit there watching the screen. Don’t take any calls or attempt to do anything other than listen to the person on the screen and pay attention: no texting, no talking to anyone else in your home, no email.
Nothing is allowed except watching the screen and “participating” virtually with your air pods or headphones on.
Do this from 7:52 am until 2:17 pm. You will receive a 4-minute break every 40 minutes. You will have 20 minutes for lunch during which time you will eat alone, but good news here, you can talk to someone on your phone during your lunch break.
Now, go back to your computer for the remainder of the day.
Keep in mind, you will receive your 4-minute break every 40 minutes, but it is really closer to 3 minutes because during your break you will need to log in to a different class.
Repeat this “school day” not for one day, not for 2 days, but 3 days. And after 3 days, do it for another 5 days, because it is required of our students at WHS until school re-opens part-time on September 21st.
Now, the above schedule is only for Jag days at Windham High School (WHS), which is every Wednesday. On Blue and Gold days, you will have a 4-minute break after 80 minutes of screen time. But the good news on these days is that you get a full 25 minutes for lunch.
Does anyone reading this letter believe that this is the very best we can give to our students at WHS? Can anyone reading this letter truly say that they would be capable of following the schedule outlined above, every day, or 3 days a week? I know that I couldn’t, and I most certainly could not do it from now through the middle of JUNE 2021.
There is a better way.
Our neighbors in Salem have shown us how it is possible to have in-class instruction for any student who desires this. According to recent numbers, Salem has 95% of its students back in school. I have watched the video of what they have done and recommend you all do the same. I provide the link here.
We can follow Salem’s lead now and get this done. Our children deserve better and we should do something about it. What should have been done over the summer needs to happen NOW. Not in a month, not in 2 weeks, but today.
Our students should be looking at 100% in-class instruction.
I still do not understand how Salem was able to have plexiglass partitions for every desk and lunch table (again, see the video) ready for the start of the school year but Windham was not able to accomplish this. While I am shocked by this reality, it does not need to remain this way.
Parents who want their children in school for live instruction 5 days a week should be given that option. Most importantly, this is what the school board originally approved, until they changed direction and decided 50% of face to face instruction would suffice. I completely disagree with that assessment.
I would encourage every resident to watch the video posted on the Salem school district website to see what they have done for their students and to compare that to what Windham has done. There is a stark contrast and the Windham response is shown to be inadequate to the nth degree.
For parents who are happy with the current state of education, there is no issue for you. However, for those parents seeking live in-person instruction 100% of the time, please email the school board, superintendent, and assistant superintendent. For WHS parents, please email the principal. I have provided their email addresses here:
firstname.lastname@example.org Richard Langlois, Superintendent
email@example.com Kori Becht, Assistant Superintendent
firstname.lastname@example.org Stephen Serpina, WHS Principal
email@example.com Dennis Senibaldi, School Board Member
firstname.lastname@example.org Cynthia Finn, School Board Member
email@example.com Rob Breton, School Board Member
firstname.lastname@example.org Shannon Ulery, School Board Member and Chair